The answer to how to kill bedbugs is changing with new research and with the bed bug’s resistance. Scientists are concerned about how to kill bed bugs, because the pests can cause public health problems. Itching is the most common symptom as it is with other insect bites. Other health problems are more serious.

Since an infestation may be ongoing for years, the loss of blood can lead to anemia. Secondary bacterial or fungal infections of the skin can occur. Redness, hives, rashes and swelling of the capillaries in the skin are not uncommon.

Some people have a severe allergic reaction. At least two cases of anaphylaxis caused by the serum injected by the common bedbug have been reported. The serum is an anti-coagulant, a compound that prevents blood from clotting.

The insects also inject an anesthetic, which prevents the victim from being aware of the bug while he or she is being bitten. The anesthetic and the anti-coagulant allow the bedbug to feed on the victim’s blood for up to five minutes before it returns to its hiding spot.

The psychological impact is of concern as well. Bites on the face or hands can cause embarrassment. Simply knowing there is an infestation can lead to insomnia, which contributes to numerous other health problems.

Protecting public health is the main reason researchers are concerned about how to kill bedbugs. There are financial reasons, too. As the incidence of infestations has increased, it has sometimes been necessary to empty buildings and close businesses temporarily, before the pests were successfully eradicated.

Close-up of bed bug.Bed bug — Cimex lectularius. Photo: Piotr Naskrecki

The most common methods used for getting rid of the pests today include cleaning and vacuuming. Mattresses may be wrapped in plastic after cleaning to prevent re-infestation. Wooden furniture may need to be disposed of if there are nooks and crannies in which the insects could hide. The whole cleaning process takes about 24 hours.

Pesticides are sometimes used as an additional measure, but the insect has become resistant to the ones used in years past. That resistance has spawned new studies about how to kill bed bugs.

A study conducted at the University of Kentucky in 2010 showed that the pesticide Chlorfenapyr is effective. The aerosol spray is most effective initially because it kills the highest number of bugs on contact. The spray dries to a powder, which continues killing for months. The scientists were also pleased with the results because the bugs do not avoid walking on the powder.

If the use of Chlorfenapyr is how to kill bedbugs, we need to be concerned about how toxic the powder residue is to human health. The EPA originally denied requests to use the pesticides on cotton and food crops, mainly because it kills birds and because there were safer alternatives.

It has now been approved for use on food and non-food crops at low concentrations. There is some known toxicity, which could cause chronic health problems.

Chlorfenapyr is available to consumers and researchers. Another compound called DE (diatomaceous earth) is also available. In one comparative study, DE proved to be just as effective as Chlorfenapyr.

If using Diatomaceous earth (DE) dust is how to kill bedbugs, we have nothing to worry about. The dust is not toxic to humans or the environment. The powder works by dehydrating the bug’s exoskeleton, which causes them to die.

Like steam-cleaning, vacuuming and disposal of infested furniture, DE is a natural alternative. Steam-cleaning is one of the natural alternatives because of the heat.

Although the bugs are resistant to great temperature extremes, they can be killed by temperatures exceeding 115 degrees if they are exposed for seven minutes or more. The need for lengthy exposure is one of the reasons the cleaning process takes so long.

Now you know as much as the scientists know about how to kill bed bugs. Hopefully, it will help you control your problem.

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